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The United States suggested last week that developing nations should provide regular updates on their greenhouse gas emissions to the United Nations, much as developed nations are required to.

The call was made on 8 December at a meeting of a working group during the annual UN convention on climate change, currently underway in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The G77, a negotiating group representing 132 developing countries, dismissed the suggestion, saying the topic was not on the working group's agenda. Calling greenhouse gas emission inventories a "non-issue" within the context of the working group, they said it should not address the topic.

Under the terms of the convention, developing nations are required to submit a report on steps they are taking or intend to take to implement it. These 'national communications' must include an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activities. Regular updates to the inventories are, however, not required.

Developed nations, in contrast, must submit annual updates on their emissions.

There is concern that as their economies grow, some developing countries — especially Brazil, China and India - will become major emitters of greenhouse gases.

Indeed, China's national communication, submitted to the UN in November 2004, revealed it to be the largest producer of these gases after the United States (see China is second biggest greenhouse gas emitter).

That report, however, described emissions made in 1994. China's current emissions are expected to be higher, and increasing.

Regular updates of greenhouse gas emissions from large emitters could provide valuable information to guide efforts to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

"The ability of the international community to achieve this objective is dependent on an accurate knowledge of greenhouse gas emissions trends," says the convention.

The Buenos Aires meeting is the tenth Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, also known as COP10. 

Brazil, China and India are all members of the G77.

Read more about climate change and COP10 in SciDev.Net's climate change dossier.